My mum dying when I was fourteen was the big shock in my teenage years. She died of cancer, I learnt later. I didn’t know then why she had died.
My mother’s death broke my dad up. That was the worst thing for me, hearing my dad cry. I’d never heard him cry before. It was a terrible blow to the family. You grow up real quick, because you never expect to hear your parents crying. You expect to see women crying, or kids in the playground, or even yourself crying - and you can explain all that. But when it’s your dad, then you know something’s really wrong and it shakes your faith in everything. But I was determined not to let it affect me. I carried on. I learnt to put a shell around me at that age. There was none of this sitting at home crying - that would be recommended now, but not then.
That became a very big bond between John and me, because he lost his mum early on, too. We both had this emotional turmoil which we had to deal with and, being teenagers, we had to deal with it very quickly. We both understood that something had happened that you couldn’t talk about - but we could laugh about it, because each of us had gone through it. It wasn’t OK for anyone else. We could both laugh at death - but only on the surface. John went through hell, but young people don’t show grief - they’d rather not. Occasionally, once or twice in later years, it would hit in. We’d be sitting around and we’d have a cry together; not often, but it was good.
Paul McCartney on his mother’s death April 25th - 1956 ➝